April 15, 2009

Back to My Cage

I can never really enjoy things in the moment. I’ve always got my eyes on the next thing. On my way to a concert, I can’t wait to get there. When I get there, I can’t wait to get home. During nearly every trip I take, I can’t wait til I can get back to NYC and move on to the next thing.

I just spent a week in Washington D.C., though, and was living pretty in-the-moment. I didn’t pressure myself to see all the touristy sites, but rather enjoyed staying in Amanda’s nice house and keeping an eye out for her cat and dog, who woke me up with a lick-in-the-face in the morning and bid goodnight by jumping on my bed and rubbing her head into my comforter. Working from Amanda’s home seemed better than working from my cramped apartment, where the sound of animals usually comes from the mice in the walls.

As I recall, I’d only visited DC three times in my past:

  1. for the NOW Women’s Rally in 1994 when I got terribly sunburned by walking around the mall in my bra with Liz Green and we stayed on a Colgate alumna’s floor in Virginia somewhere. We visited one of the Smithsonian Museums but we were more interested in goofing off than being cultured, so we pushed each other around in a wheelchair we’d absconded with
  2. for the Billboard/BETJazz Awards when I worked at Atlantic, which is when I first met Amanda and when I realized Herbie Hancock is a pervert
  3. for Amanda’s baby shower last summer, though I was only in town for a day

I had no real impression of it and didn’t have much desire to be a tourist, but since I was going to be alone rather than shown around by friends, I had to get a little proactive in terms of planning things to do. There would be no Rodeo Bar around the corner. No Marshall Stack a bus ride away. And I knew that even with the animals’ company, I would be stir crazy enough to have to go out, even if that meant spending the day in the center city, going back to Brookland (an hour away) to feed the munchkins, and then going back into the city for a couple of hours before catching the Metro before it stopped running or finding a cab that I could direct to the near northeast suburbs.

Fortunately, it doesn't take much to entertain me. A wine bar in Dupont Circle. A massage. Trying new beer at The Big Hunt with a new drinking buddy. On my way back from the Govinda Gallery’s Bob Marley photo exhibit in the rain, stopping and snapping a photo of the stairs featured in The Exorcist, which look less ominous now that they’ve added a railing to the precarious and fall-inducing non-walled side of it.

Although DC was unseasonably chilly and sometimes downright cold, I caught the cherry blossoms past peak but still in bloom, framing the Jefferson Memorial and catching the sunlight as they inevitably dropped from the low branches to the ground with each passerby. I’m not one much for monuments – obelisks and pyramids and giant statues of political figures – preferring instead historical usable spaces like train stations, cathedrals, and factories, so I didn’t bother to walk up to the Washington Monument, though I caught a good look at it from afar. I found out later that you can climb up into it. That’ll be something to do for the next trip.

All of these pit stops, though, were peripheral to the real reason I was in town: for Ziggy Marley’s headlining performances at the White House Easter Egg Roll, a popular event on the south lawn attended annually by 30k people. I missed Fergie’s performances, though I could hear the last one from outside the SE Gate. I caught the end of a kids’ cooking demo by Top Chef’s Spike, who apparently has a burger joint on the hill which I didn’t find out about until it was too late to go. I stood in front of actor James Cromwell, who holds a special place in my heart as the farmer in Babe. I even got a free commemorative wooden egg, only given out to children under 10 and available for sale on the White House website.

Once I got there, I realized I didn’t really need to be there for my consulting gig, but I was so happy to be welcomed by three generations of the Marley family and to witness first-hand how much a lot of people would love to be in my shoes. All ages and races reached over the fence that I was behind to get a photo with Ziggy, even just on their camera phones. They asked for photos with Ziggy’s mom Rita, who they recognized immediately (I did not). Even one of the PBS Kids costumed characters reached into a furry pocket to retrieve a camera, and leaned over and whispered into Ziggy’s wife’s ear, “That’s Ziggy’s kid, right? Can I have a picture?” Truly one of the most bizarre fan moments of my career.

By the time Tuesday morning came, I was ready to go back to NYC. I needed something to make me miss it. But give me a day or two back and I’m sure my wanderlust will kick in again….

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